Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Review: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Title: Grave Mercy
Author: Robin LaFevers
Publisher: Orchard Books (2012)

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

 Ok, so I have read this before. Forgive me if I have bored you with my love for Grave Mercy in the past. 

This is easily one of the best historical / fantasy mash-ups in YA to date. The writing is fantastic and captures the setting and time perfectly. I felt that the author had really made an effort to get the details just right.

I loved the concept! Assassin nuns? When have you ever heard of that being done before? The story is so unique and Ismae is a wonderful lead character.

As is expected with any YA these days, there is also romance. But this is superseded by the story itself and the mystery and intrigue. The plot is richly layered and you are not quite too sure who to trust.

If you are looking for something different, I can highly recommend this! i have the sequel waiting to be read on my beside table.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Trouble with Goodreads

Good day all!

I have been pondering something for a while and I thought best to put my thoughts out there on the blogosphere.

If you are reading this post, chances are you are as avid a bookworm as I am. And, if that is the case, then surely you too are a member of Goodreads, the social network for bookish folk.

I have dabbled on and off with Goodreads since 2010 or thereabouts. At first, it was really great to see what others were reading and to get unfiltered reviews on books. I used to look up every book religiously before reading it ad found myself agreeing with most reviewers, whether positive or negative.

And that fact right there became a problem.

As a reviewer myself, I try to keep my opinions my own. How could I possibly do that when I already have a preconceived idea of a book? If I read reviews complaining of a bitchy main character or a flat, boring love triangle, that would be all I noticed with that particular book.

So now I completely avoid Goodreads if there is a particular book that has caught my eye. I feel that people often write scathing reviews because they can and they fail to understand that their tastes are not mine. Also, who really wants to read a book and pick it apart line by line? Does that simple fact kill the enjoyment of it anyway?

What are your thoughts on this? Are reviews a good or a bad thing? (As someone who runs a book review blog, I really want to know!)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Review: Crewel by Gennifer Albin


Title: Crewel (Crewel World 1)
Author: Gennifer Albin
Publisher: Faber and Faber (2012)
Incapable. Awkward. Artless.

That’s what the other girls whisper behind her back. But sixteen-year-old Adelice Lewys has a secret: She wants to fail.

Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, she’s exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen to work the looms is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to manipulate the very fabric of reality. But if controlling what people eat, where they live, and how many children they have is the price of having it all, Adelice isn’t interested.

Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and used her hidden talent for a moment. Now she has one hour to eat her mom’s overcooked pot roast. One hour to listen to her sister’s academy gossip and laugh at her dad’s jokes. One hour to pretend everything’s okay. And one hour to escape.

Because tonight, they’ll come for her.

Crewel is defined as: Embroidery, or Crewelwork, is a type of crochet embroidery using wool and a variety of different embroidery stitches to follow a design outline applied to the fabric (Wikipedia). This is an actual art form that Albin has adapted for this novel. Clever, as I originally thought the novel was simply called that as a deliberate misspelling of the word "Cruel".

I really enjoyed this one. It is original and polished, with a swift narrative that kept me guessing.

Part of me could have done without the romance, as Adelice has strong enough relationships with other characters. It seems to be too much to ask for a great YA novel that doesn't rely on romance to draw in a readership.

This is a strong enough novel and concept on its own. I really liked the world Albin has created as deftly as her characters work the weave in their own world.

I look forward to the next in the series, Altered.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Cover Reveal: The Ripmender by Julianne Alcott

Paranormalsphere is proud to host our first ever cover reveal!

The Ripmender is a forthcoming YA novel from  Julianne Alcott published by local publishing company Wordsmack.

I have also been lucky enough to receive an eARC of The Ripmender, so expect a review soon!

Without further ado, here is the gorgeous cover of The Ripmender! I love it!

 About The Ripmender:

‘In the real world, ones' idols ended up going to rehab or jail, or marrying someone for three days. They didn't end up being from another planet.’

Cathy Slater dreams of meeting the love of her life ... teen rock sensation, Nathan Jake. Of course, this is impossible – he is adored by millions, and she has trouble fitting into her own family. Even if he is a tutor at her university, she can’t compete with the packs of adoring fans constantly surrounding him.
But then her life changes forever when she stumbles onto Nathan Jake’s biggest secret. She wasn’t meant to see what he could do … what he was.

Becoming part of his secret means that Cathy is thrown head first into his world – the one in which Ripmenders keep unsuspecting worlds like ours safe from invasion. And then there are the jealous super-fans to deal with …

But can Jake ever reciprocate Cathy’s feelings? As she discovers more about the Ripmenders and the shadowy organisation that runs them, the more she worries that his cold, calm demeanour will never give way to the loving man she always imagined him to be. Follow the couple from South Africa across the galaxy to fantastical planets through the rips of space.

Comment from Louisa Pieters from Foolmoon Design:

With all the trends in Young Adult covers to contend with, it is not an easy process to design a cover that stands out.

What with full figure shots, albeit with chopped of heads, close-up facial shots, dreamy girls (or boys as the case may be), I decided on the mysterious girl stepping into the unknown future. This decision
helped us side-step the off-putting issue of the cover image not corresponding to the author's description of the main character.

It's something the publishers wanted to steer clear of from the beginning: give the reader a chance to imagine the main character instead of insisting on a specific look. That, and avoid the issue of showcasing clothes that may be out of fashion by the time the book is released.

I love the starscape - I really enjoyed the book and was hoping to convey the otherworldliness of some of the settings.


The Ripmender is available soon on the 6th May from Wordsmack Publishers in  eBook form. Wordsmack is a digital publishing house specialising in speculative African fiction. Visit them at www.word-smack.com.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Fim Review: Divergent

Title: Divergent
Cast: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet
Studio: Summit Entertainment (2014)

I was lucky enough to go to the opening night screening of Divergent thanks to Jonathan Ball Publishers (Local distributors of the book series) and Skoobs Theatre of Books.

I have been anticipating this movie for MONTHS but also didn't get my hopes up too high as the YA genre has a pretty shitty history of being translated into film well. From what I had seen online, I was happy with the casting choices and the general feel of the film, but we fans are a fickle, picky lot who are hard to please.

After meeting the other winners of the Skoobs competition, I pulled on my Candor bracelet, grabbed popcorn and coke and settled in for a 2 hour trip into the world of the best-selling novels I had come to love.

Firstly, the one thing that really impressed me was the movie score and soundtrack. There was a lot of Ellie Goulding, which was a great choice of artist for the film as she has already tapped roots into the right audiences and is edgy enough to fit the atmosphere and feel of the film. The score was composed by Han Zimmer, who is one of my favourite composers of all time. You may remember the name from films such as The Lion King and Batman Begins, which has sweeping, epic scores. He delivers more of the same with Divergent, giving the film that little bit extra.

Shailene Woodley was cast as Tris and did an admirable job, although she will never be Jennifer Lawrence. I look forward to seeing her in the role of Hazel in The Fault in Our Stars later this year.

Theo James was great at Four and he had his shirt off enough for me not to mind if he was the world's worst actor.

For those who have not read the books, Divergent provides enough information for them not to be left in the dark. My boyfriend even enjoyed it and seemed to have a grasp of the plot. He commented on it being filmed well and the settings, although he thought the movie could have been more dark and brutal.

I tend to agree. The book was a lot darker and they left out or dumbed down a lot of brutality the Dauntless initiates went through. This was probably to ensure the movie hit it's PG rating.

I wish Peter's character had been focused on more. he played an important role in the books and he was dealt with in a cursory way. Plus the actor who they cast in the role was too soft and weak-looking. I did not see Peter like that at all!

I won't go into THE scene that has everyone talking. That is been discussed on other blogs and reviews.

Overall, Divergent was a brilliant adaption and I am pleased to say that I enjoyed it even more than The Hunger Games, as the story and setting was so well-done. It is polished and didn't feel rushed or cheapened.

If you are a fan, I am sure you will not leave the cinema disappointed.